Baby Be-Bop (Weetzie Bat Series)

Baby Be-Bop (Weetzie Bat Series)

4.3 6
by Francesca Lia Block, David Diaz
     
 

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Dirk MacDonald, a sixteen-year-old boy living in Los Angeles, comes to terms with being gay after he receives surreal storytelling visitations from his dead father and great-grandmother. See more details below

Overview

Dirk MacDonald, a sixteen-year-old boy living in Los Angeles, comes to terms with being gay after he receives surreal storytelling visitations from his dead father and great-grandmother.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Embroidering her prose with lushly romantic imagery, Block returns to the world of Weetzie Bat for this keenly felt story. A prequel of sorts to Weetzie Bat, the novel opens while Weetzie's best friend Dirk is still a child, lying on his mat at naptime. ``Dirk had known it since he could remember''-known, that is, that he is gay. Tenderly raised by Grandma Fifi, famous for her pastries and her 1955 Pontiac convertible, Dirk struggles with love and fear: ``He wanted to be strong and to love someone who was strong; he wanted to meet any gaze, to laugh under the brightest sunlight and never hide.'' After his first heartbreak, with his closest friend (who cannot accept Dirk's love nor his own for Dirk), Dirk battles more fiercely for identity; beaten up by a gang of punks, he slumps into semiconsciousness and is visited by his ancestors, each telling a haunting, lyrical tale of love, faith and self-acceptance. What might seem didactic from lesser writers becomes a gleaming gift from Block. Her extravagantly imaginative settings and finely honed perspectives remind the reader that there is magic everywhere. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
The ALAN Review - Kay Parks Bushman
Dirk McDonald is in conflict with his own identity. He doesn't want to be gay, but he knows that he is. The last person that he wants to hurt is his Grandma Fifi, who has lovingly provided a wonderful home for him in Hollywood. Then, one night, through a magic lamp, ghosts of Dirk's ancestors, including the mother and father he never knew, share tales of his past, present, and future through magical images, setting him free to know that true love in any form is right. Francesca Lia Block paints another modern-day tale sharing the adventures of friends living in Shangri-L.A. Mature teens who have already enjoyed the tales that began with Weetzie Bat should look forward to this continuation.
School Library Journal
Gr 10 UpA prequel to the popular books about Weetzie Bat and her circle of quirky friends and relatives. This novel is about her best pal, Dirk, in his pre-Weetzie days. He's in high school (in L.A., of course), living with Grandma Fifi and struggling with how to come out to his best friend and soulmate. Although Dirk never does tell Pup he's gay, Pup feels the sexual tension between them: "`I love you, Dirk,' Pup said. `But I can't handle it.'" In reaction, Dirk takes to slam dancing in punk joints. When a gang of gay bashers beats him up, he drags himself home and passes out. While he's unconscious, long-dead relatives he's never known come to him in what seem to be dreams; when he wakes in the hospital, he realizes that his grandmother has been telling him stories. Out of her comforting words about how others in his family have insisted on being themselves, his battered brain fashions hopeful hallucinations, including one of his future lover. His visions assure him that ``There was love waiting; love would come.'' Block writes distinctively and convincingly, interweaving the hallucination scenes smoothly. She makes the power of stories feltand here, more purposefully than ever before, she weaves a safety net of words for readers longing to feel at home with themselves. Gay teens in particular need this book. All fans of the series will relish meeting nice-guy Dirk as the tender Baby Be-Bop.Claudia Morrow, Berkeley Public Library, CA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780064471763
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/01/1997
Series:
Weetzie Bat Series
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
(w) x (h) x 0.22(d)
Lexile:
880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Dirk and Fifi

Dirk had known it since he could remember.

At nap time he lay on the mat, feeling his skin sticking to brown plastic, listening to the buzz of flies, smelling the honeysuckle through the faraway window, tasting the coating of graham cracker cookies and milk in his mouth, wanting to be racing through space. He tried to think of something he liked.

He was on a train with the fathers--all naked and cookie-colored and laughing. There under the blasts of warm water spurting from the walls as the train moved slick through the land. All the bunching calf muscles dripping water and biceps full of power comforted Dirk. He tried to see his own father's face but there was always too much steam.

Dirk knew that there was something about this train that wasn't right. One day he heard his Grandma Fifi talking to her canaries, Pirouette and Minuet, in the teacup-colored kitchen with honey sun pouring through the windows.

"I'm afraid it's hard for him without a man around, Pet," Fifi said as she put birdseed into the green domeshaped cage.

The canaries chirped at her.

"I asked him about what the men and ladies on his toy train were doing, Mini, and do you know what he said? He said they were all men taking showers together."

The canaries nuzzled each other on their perch. Pet did a perfect pirouette and Mini sang.

"I guess you're right. It's something all little boys go through. It's just a phase," Fifi said.

Just a phase. Dirk thought about those words over and over again. Just a phase. Until the train inside of him would crash. Until the thing inside of him that was wrong and bad would change.Until he would change. He waited and waited for the phase to end. When would it end? He tried to do everything fast so it would end faster. He got A's in school. He ran fast. He made his body strong so that he would be picked first for teams.

That was important--being picked first. The weak, skinny, scared boys got picked last. They got chased through the yard and had their jeans pulled up hard. Sometimes other kids threw food at them. Sometimes they went home with black eyes, bloody noses or swollen lips. Dirk knew that almost all the boys who were treated this way really did like girls. It was just that girls didn't like them yet. Dirk also knew that some of the boys that hurt them were doing it so they wouldn't have to think about liking boys themselves. They were burning, twisting and beating the part of themselves that might have once dreamed of trains and fathers.

Dirk knew that the main thing was to keep to himself and never to seem afraid.

Every Saturday afternoon his Grandma Fifi took him to see a matinee, where he could hide, dreaming, in crackling popcorn darkness. They saw James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. That was who he wanted to be. He practiced squinting and pouting. He turned up his jacket collar and rolled his jeans. He slicked back his hair, carefully leaving one stray piece falling into his eyes. James Dean was beautiful because he didn't seem afraid of anything, but when Dirk looked into his eyes he knew that he secretly was and it made Dirk love him even more.

Grandma Fifi had two friends named Martin and Merlin who were afraid in a way Dirk didn't want to be. They were both very handsome and kind and always brought candies and toys when they came over for tea and Fifi's famous pastries. But as much as Dirk liked Martin and Merlin he knew he was different from them. They talked in voices as pale and soft as the shirts they wore and they moved as gracefully as Fifi did. Their eyes were startled and sad. They had been hurt because of who they were. Dirk didn't want to be hurt that way. He wanted to be strong and to love someone who was strong; he wanted to meet any gaze, to laugh under the brightest sunlight and never hide.

Dirk especially didn't want to hide from Grandma Fifi but he wasn't sure how to tell her. He didn't want to disturb the world she had made for him in her cottage with the steep chocolate frosting roof, the birdbath held by a nymph and the seven stone dwarfs in the garden. There were so many butterflies in that garden that when Dirk was a little boy he could stand naked in a crowd of them and be completely covered. Jade-green pupas hung from the bushes like earrings. Fifi showed Dirk the gold sparks that would later become the butterflies' orange color. Then the pupa darkened and stretched and finally a fragile monarch bloomed. Fifi and Dirk put flower nectar or a mixture of honey and water on their fingertips and the newborn butterflies crawled onto them, all ticklish, and practiced fanning wings that were like amber stained glass in the sun. In the garden there were also little butterflies that looked like petals blown from the roses with the almond scent. There were peaches with pits that also smelled and looked like almonds when you cracked them open. Fifi showed Dirk how to pinch the honeysuckle blossoms that grew over the back gate so that sweet drops fell onto his tongue. She showed him how to pinch the snapdragons' jaws to make them sing. If Dirk ever cut himself playing, Fifi broke off a piece of the thick green aloe vera plant she called Love and a gel oozed out like Love's clear, thick blood. Fifi put the gel onto Dirk's cut and stuck a Peanuts Band-Aid over it; the cut always healed by the next day, skin smooth as if it had never been broken.

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